So that you can appreciate the long and difficult way from the completion of a building, to the issue of the property title deeds, we hereby submit the procedure that it is required. For each step we hereby provide the legal requirement for the issue of a permit and the actual time taken.
• Application for town planning permit – This is the most important permit for the development. It sets out what you can build, the use, the access, the ceeding of part of your property to the public use, the layout/appearance of a building, the density, height, coverage etc. Legal time required for a reply is 3 months, but actual time 6-9 months and this provided there are no problem.
• Building Permit – The building permit follows the issue of the planning permit. It checks the structural stability of the building, the provision of public services, health and safety, the fire adequacy of the building, sewage and drainage etc. No legal requirement for its issue. Should be received 3-4 months, but usual time especially if in the District Office 12-18 months.
• Once the building is completed you must invite the Municipality (if a Municipal area) or the District Office/Town Planning Department (if not) in order to check, whether what you have built is in accord with the two previous permits. Time for inspection from date of invitation should be 1-2 months, actual time 4-6 months.
• Cover Permits – Because, inevitably, no building is erected 100% in accordance with its permits, but minor or not changes are made or additions (e.g. a pool, a car-port etc) then you must start all over again. That, is a new application for a town planning permit (called a cover permit) a new application for a new building permit (called a cover building permit) with the possibility of these two new permits requiring another 1 year or so.
• Once the building is O.K., you must seek the certificate of final approval. The supervising technician will make up his report, submit it to the local civil engineer, the engineer will then submit it to the building committee, the minutes must be typed, corrected and approved and when this is done, the committee must sign. Time from the O.K. until you actually get the certificate in your hand 6-18 months – always provided there is no major problem with the building.
• Then you must submit what is called a division permit. A clear and straightforward procedure but, yes, it will take another 6 months.
• Then, once this is issued, you will need a certificate of approval of the division permit (again through the engineer, Building Committee, minutes etc etc) another 6 months at best.
• Once you receive the previous last permit then you can apply to the Lands Office for registration and issue a title. Normal time needed is between 12-30 months depending on the difficulties.
• If the project which your property forms part is large enough, it will also require an environmental study and thus your time is elongated by another 6-8 months (legal time for a reply 30 days).
Total time from start to completion around 8-10 years or time after completion of construction work to deed approximately 5-7 years.
This time could be reduced to 50% of the total, if the permits are privatized i.e. the designer (architect/engineer) to bear the responsibility that he is designing within the regulations and he must certify at the end that the developer has built in accord with the permits. The designer must have a Bank/Insurance guarantee of at least CYP500.000, so if he does not do his job right, he will have to pay the authority for the loses, in addition losing his architect/engineer permit. This could be done for small buildings, on an experimental basis, up to the extent of 5.000 sq.mts. Alternatively and because we feel that the longest delays are those after the building permit issue, all the relevant certificates to be issued by the supervising or any other architect/engineer (with the same CYP500.000 guarantee and responsibility). The authorities to keep a supervising role and spot checking.
If this adopted for an experimental period of 1-2 years, at least for those buildings with a building permit issued up to the year 31.12.2005, it will cover the thousands of backload applications, leaving the authorities to make a fresh start.
Surely there will be cover ups and the difficulties and including the possibility that the non-public, supervising architect/engineer, might turn a building e.g. here and there, but what is the target? If the problem is to be solved this is the only way. After all it is the authorities fault for such delays as is the numerous illegal acts by the applicants.
Assuming that there are delayed 20.000 housing units (let alone the others) pending/in the process of having their titles being issued, the transfer fees that the Government will collect once the deeds are issued is expected to exceed CYP140 mil., a good income for the state, but more importantly, it will solve thousands of problems created against the buyers.
Privatization is the name of the game and we have been pressing the Government for the last 8 years to allow this, as it has allowed in the past (with the same reservations) for the private land demarcation and private property valuations on behalf of public authorities. It is very difficult however to convince the civil/Municipal employees to let go some of their despotic authority. Is not an easy thing. Lets keep our fingers cross because this privatization process is already happening to a small extent for other activities.
By Antonis Loizou, FRICS
Antonis Loizou & Associates Ltd
Property Valuers – Project Managers
28 June 2007